Will Antarctica host two colossal protected areas?

Deciding the future for the world's last great wilderness

Around the globe, marine conservation communities are focused on Antarctica, the world’s last great wilderness. Right now, there are proposals for the creation of marine protected areas in East Antarctica and the Ross Sea under consideration, a combined area of over two million square kilometers of habitat, of peace and of science. A decision is expected to be made by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) in Hobart, Australia by October 30, 2015.

Photo: John Weller

Declared a place of peace and science at the height of the Cold War, Antarctica is home to almost 10,000 species such as the Patagonian toothfish in the Ross Sea, penguin populations in East Antarctica and most critical to Antarctica’s marine food chain, krill. Conditions in Antarctica have been altered by climate change and over-exploitation. As a result, concerns for the health of Antarctic wildlife and scientific discovery by stakeholders around the globe have bubbled to the surface.

If designated as no-take marine reserves, the two colossal area proposals will represent a nearly 50% increase in the world’s no-take area. The two proposals together are 2,250,000 km2. This is a rare opportunity as the Southern Ocean encompasses 10% of the world’s oceans that cover 71% of the Earth’s surface. Learn more about the proposal’s ocean coverage at MPAtlas.org.

Photo: John Weller

As a proud partner of the Antarctic Ocean Alliance and Antarctic and Southern Ocean Coalition, Marine Conservation Institute encourages you to join the Antarctic Ocean Alliance and ask CCAMLR’s 240-person international body of marine scientists, resource managers and policy makers to safeguard Antarctic biodiversity hotspots in the East Antarctic and Ross Sea. Take action by signing your name in support of protection for the world’s Antarctic seas.

Cover photo: John Weller

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